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Furia was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Ethel Szilagyi Furia and Philip Andrew Furia. He has a younger brother, Mark Daniel Furia. He grew up in West Mifflin, a suburb of Pittsburgh, next to Kennywood, an amusement park where he worked as a barker during his high school years.
In 1962, Furia graduated from Duquesne High School in Pittsburgh and attended Oberlin College in Ohio, majoring in English. Following his graduation from Oberlin, Furia attended the University of Chicago, receiving his Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing in 1966. Furia then attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop where he received his Master of Fine Arts. Hunkies Eat Their Young was the title of his MFA thesis. He received his PhD from the University of Iowa in 1970.
Upon receiving his degree, Furia started teaching at the University of Minnesota's Department of English. In 1995, Furia became Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences for Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1996, Furia left the University of Minnesota where he had been the Department Chair, Assistant Chair, Directory of Undergraduate Studies, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs of the College of Liberal Arts.
Furia left the University of Minnesota to become the Chair of the Department of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. During his tenure there, Furia has also been the Director of the Film Studies Program, and Chair of the Department of Creative Writing. He is currently a professor in the department.
- Pound's Cantos Declassified (1984)
- The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists (1992)
- Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist (1996)
- Irving Berlin: A Life in Song (1997)
- Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer (2004)
- America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley (2006), with Michael Lasser, host of Peabody Award-winning public radio program Fascinatin’ Rhythm
- The Songs of Hollywood, with Laurie Patterson (2010)
- "Department of Creative Writing: Philip Furia, professor". UNCW. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "Michael Lasser to Speak on Music Related to LeConte Stewart Exhibit", U-News & Views (University of Utah Alumni Association), November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- Irving Berlin's America Part 1 (12/28/2006) and Part 2 (1/4/2007); Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet (second of Berlin's three daughters), co-editors of The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, and Furia; host Ben Wattenberg. PBS Think Tank, audio and transcript.
- 978-0-415-99052-3 America's Songs at Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group.
- "When Hollywood Had A Song In Its Heart", transcript, Philip Furia interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, July 20, 2010. Discussing The Songs of Hollywood; mentions include Claire Trevor singing "Moanin' Low" in Key Largo; Donald O'Connor lip syncing in Singin' in the Rain "where ... he's bouncing all over the room". Interview audio (26 min.).
- Interview with WritersNewsWeekly.com